FRIDAY FEAST with Christine Stinson

Now, sing along with me, Feasters… It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Didn’t put you in the mood? Well, bah humbug! Actually, it’s a little too early for me too. Any mention of Christmas gives me a mild attack of the panics over where the year has disappeared. Although I do like the reappearance of fruit mince tarts in the bakeries. You can never have enough of those fruity sugary happy pills in your life.

Just as you can never have enough good reading! And today on Friday Feast I’m delighted to host a novelist who knows exactly how to produce a good read. Sydney based contemporary women’s fiction author Christine Stinson bounded to fame with her engaging debut novel Getting Even With Fran, a high school reunion story that celebrates friendship and so much more. Her latest release is the truly heart-warming It Takes A Village, a book I’m reading now and absolutely loving.

Check it out.

 

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

 

Growing up in conservative, postwar Australia isn’t easy. For eight-year-old Sophie, who has just been told that she’s a ‘bastard’, it seems that she lives in a world of secrets, unanswered questions and whispers.

Who is her father and why did her mother never tell anyone who he was?

With only her reclusive grandfather to raise her, and more than one neighbour expecting her to go off the rails like her mother—after all, apples rarely fall far from the tree—Sophie struggles to find her place in the world.

In a time when experiences are shared around the kitchen table, over the back fence or up at the corner shop, Sophie learns that life is rarely simple, love is always complicated and sometimes it takes more than blood ties to make a family.

 

This is a charming story and available now from good bookstores. You can also order the paperback from Booktopia or Bookworld (which also sells the ebook). For ebook readers, try Kindle, Kobo or Google Play. If you’d like to read a sample first, there’s a juicy big excerpt on Christine’s website.

And now I hand you over to Christine and a little bit of early Christmas joy. Go on, you know you want it!

 

The Silly Season Is Nigh

 

Greetings from sunny Sydney. I’m delighted to be on Friday Feast since I love to cook and eat!

It wasn’t always thus (the cooking part, not the eating…) Before I was married my culinary forte was Vegemite on toast. My husband was no better: beyond shoving a sausage roll inside a buttered roll with lots of tomato sauce, he had nothing. I had to learn to cook by trial and lots of error. (I’m on my third complete set of saucepans. The first two sets didn’t survive the learning process.) Now that I’m more competent and my efforts less flammable, I find cooking a satisfying process. There’s nothing better than sitting around a table with family and friends sharing something edible! Throw in some wine and it’s perfect.

That said, with the silly season fast approaching and all the entertaining that entails, I’m all for recipes with shortcuts. Something that looks good, tastes great, doesn’t take all day and can be done ahead of time. These recipes fill that bill. The potato salad can be made a few days ahead and goes beautifully with Christmas ham, pork and seafood, and the mini Christmas puddings look terrific, taste good and keep for a fortnight in the fridge.

Potato salad:

1 and a half kgs chat potatoes, quartered and boiled until just soft (about 10 mins)

Large handful chopped shallots (about 4 shallots, green part included)

6 rashers of bacon, dry fried until crisp then chopped

150 mls French dressing

300ml carton of sour light cream (so this potato salad isn’t fattening!!!)

2 tabs mayonnaise

When potatoes are cooked, drain and tip into a serving bowl with most of the shallots thrown in, too. Pour the French dressing over the top and allow to cool for a couple of hours. Mix sour cream and mayonnaise, add to the potato/shallot/dressing mix, stir to combine then scatter the bacon pieces and the last of the shallots over the top as garnish. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.

Mini Christmas puddings:

I store bought dark Christmas cake

1 jar fruit mince

2 tabs brandy

White chocolate for melting

Green and red snakes.

Crumble the cake into a mixing bowl, drain off about half the liquid from the fruit mince and throw the rest of the contents of the jar into the bowl, plus the brandy. Mix well with fingers/spoon, roll into balls about two-thirds the size of a golf ball. Melt the white chocolate, drizzle a teaspoon on each ball for the icing, cut snakes into very small pieces (about two-thirds of a centimetre each) and drop a red or green piece (or both) on top of the icing. These look great on a Christmas dessert platter along with shortbread biscuits and chocolates.

 

Thanks for those fab recipes, Christine. Nothing like a good (non-fattening!) potato salad, plus anything with fruit mince gets my vote. There’s something about the luscious super sweet intensity of fruit mince that really gets my tastebuds dancing. And I bet those little puds look absolutely gorgeous too.

Now, Feasters. Christine and I know you’re a clever lot, so what’s your favourite do-ahead Christmas idea? The pud goes without saying, but what other sneaky trick do you employ to make the silly season that bit less hectic? This year I’m going to make some long-keeping edible gifts and package them up nicely. What’s your idea or are you simply going to wing-it and hope for the best? We’d love to hear your take.

If you’d like to discover more about Christine and her heart-warming books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook.

0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Christine Stinson

  1. Avatarchristinestinson

    I’m singing, Cathryn. I’m a fan of most things Christmas, especially Christmas decorations, the more sparkly and tinselly the better. Have always wanted to decorate the house, too, a la Griswalds, but we’re leery of heights in this household so crawling over the roof is out of the question. Hope all the Feasters have already started their Christmas shopping and are ready and willing to share their fail-safe Christmas recipes!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Ooh, I love a good sparkle too, Christine! I might even get out the Christmas tree this year. Something that doesn’t happen often because we’re always away. Not this year!

  2. AvatarJaye Ford

    I love your books Christine and I love the recepes too. I’m going to have a go at the mini Christmas puds – they sound easy and delish! Thanks for the Chrissie hints!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I’m going to try the puds too, Jaye. They sound completely moreish and super easy. Such an important consideration come party time.
      Lovely to see you here!

  3. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Having sampled some of Christine’s Christmas treats I can attest that they taste just as delectable on Boxing Day. And I’m all for easy at Christmas. It’s supposed to be a holiday, right?
    Thanks for a lovely post, Christine.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      It is indeed meant to be a holiday, Louise, Trouble is it often doesn’t end up that way for the cook. That’s where I reckon simple fresh seafood comes into its own. All you need are plates, napkins and something nice to wash it down with. Perfect!

  4. AvatarBec

    you missed one important ingredient from the potato salad – hard boiled egg – my aunty always makes a yummy potato salad – great for bbq’s, i usually make a pasta salad with spiral pasta, thousand isle salad dressing (don;t use the light one – it just doesn’t taste right!) and seafood highlighter (you buy it at the deli) some people put sliced celery in as well (yuck!) i always make a big batch so i get to eat it for a week lol

  5. Avatarchristinestinson

    Sorry, Bec, can never put hard boiled eggs in any family recipe, my son (now grown up) hasn’t eaten eggs in any form since he was a baby. Thanks for the pasta salad ideas!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I don’t mind a bit of egg in my spud salad either, Bec. It makes it richer I think, plus I looooove eggs. Pasta salad makes a great stopgap if you’re stuck for bbq sides, doesn’t it? Cook pasta and splodge on some dressing. Too easy!

      Great to see you here. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. AvatarHelene Young

    Yum, that potato salad recipe sounds very similar to my favourite, Christine!

    I am definitely going to try the mini puddings, they sound delicious. There really isn’t a place for a traditional Christmas pudding in 35 degree heat with 95% humidity so we tend to eat pavlovas or ice-cream based desserts on the big day in North Queensland.

    This year I’m in charge of catering for lunch and I’m all for the easy life so there’ll be glazed hams, seafood, heaps of salads and something cold for dessert.

    I’m a sucker for Christmas Bonbons and I usually buy pretty but inexpensive ones and stock them full of things like lip balm, hair clips for the girls, yummy chocolates, cleaning cloths for glasses or whatever else I can rustle up. This year I’m also cheating and giving away decorated jars of honey – the bees do all the hard work and I get all the kudos!!

    1. Avatarchristinestinson

      I’m going use your bonbon idea, Helene, it’s a really good one! We have the same taste in Christmas lunches – as you say, too hot for anything else. Plus the leftovers are terrific. I’d say roll on Christmas for all the yummy food, except that I haven’t done much Christmas gift shopping…

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        My tropics residing mother-in-law doesn’t agree with you, Helene! Christmas’s with Jim’s family always involves multiple roasts and a great big home-made pud with lashings of custard. Seriously yum but never ceases to make me smile. It’s so incongruous to the environment!

        I bet those bonbons and honey presents will be much appreciated. Lovely idea.

        I haven’t done anything either, Christine. Methinks Helen is making us look bad!

  7. AvatarImelda Evans

    Ooh, I do like the sound of those Christmas treats – I, too, am a great fan of fruit mince. I have even made my own on occasion, that’s how keen I am. And I LOVE your cover, Christine, as well as the sound of this story. Stories about communities are among my favourites.

    As to favourite do-ahead things, I like to make edible gifts. Jams, relishes and cordial are favourites, as they don’t go off and a batch makes a lot of presents. But I’ve also done small Christmas cakes and puddings for the same reason. For the day itself, I glaze the ham and make desserts the day before and I’m a big fan of starters or food elements that can be ‘assembled’ out of the fridge rather than cooked on the day. Like smoked trout with rye bread, capers, red onion and sour cream. Delicious, portable and on the table in five minutes (including slicing the onion).

    Thanks for a great year of Feasts, Cathryn!

    1. Avatarchristinestinson

      How does a person get their name on your Christmas list, Imelda?! I do like the sound of your home made gifts – and those Christmas starters.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Yay! Another fruit mince girl. It’s soooo delicious, isn’t it, Imelda? And to think I used to dislike it as a kid….

        I’m with Christine and coveting a spot on your Christmas list too. Yum!